What do Liverpool need for the coming season?

Now Jurgen Klopp has had over half a season of Premier League experience, it is now time for him to bring in his own players and take Liverpool to the next level. I will be analysing what positions Klopp will need to invest in and possible candidates.

Signings so far

Loris Karius is the latest Klopp signing, a young promising goalkeeper from ex club Mainz. Karius is a great signing with the inconsistent performances from current number one, Simon Mignolet. A very good shot stopper and confident in possession of the ball whilst delivering good distribution much like ex Liverpool player Pepe Reina. It is not yet clear whether Karius is the new number one goalkeeper but he will definitely be good competition for Mignolet for the coming season. 

New LFC goalkeeper signing Karius

Is Karius the new number one at Liverpool?

Joel Matip was signed in February on a free transfer from FC Schalke 04 and could be the dominant centre back Liverpool are crying for. Over recent seasons, poor defending has been the Reds downfall and Klopp has immediately tried to rectify that. Joel Matip stands at 6 ft 4 inches and is known for his power and heading ability, which can certainly help Liverpool with their inability to defend corners/crosses. On a free, this is a brilliant signing as he is still young but has good experience, collecting nearly 200 appearances for Schalke and 27 for his national team Cameroon. Matip will go straight into the first team and Klopp will hope for him to build a formidablle partnership with the rejuvenated Dejan Lovren.

Marko Grujic is relatively unknown to fans of the Premier League and Liverpool but looks a very promising player. The Serbian made it into the SuperLiga team of the season accumulating six goals and seven assists along the way. A big powerful midfielder, Grujic has been likened to fellow Serbian Nemanja Matic and for sum of £5.1 million, Liverpool may have just found a top European midfielder.

Positions Liverpool need to strengthen this summer

Left Back has been a constant problem for Liverpool since club legend John Arne Riise left the club. The likes of Paul Konchesky, Jose Enrique and Fabio Aurellio have tried to fill the void but have not been up to Liverpool’s expectations. The current left back is Alberto Moreno, whilst Moreno provides a great attacking threat, his ability to defend is often questioned and his abysmal Europa League final performance has many fans wanting Klopp to sign a new left back. Moreno did not convert to a left back until he was 21 and this shows in his current game, a backup left back or playing him higher up the pitch will be more suitable for this coming season.

Potential signings – Jonas Hector, Caner Erkin, Ben Chilwell.

Midfield is a tricky one as Liverpool do possess very good midfielders in, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Philippe Coutinho. Despite the quality in midfield, it feels like Liverpool are desperate for a proven top class player to add another option for Klopp. There has been much speculation about the potential signing of Mario Gotze, this would be the marquee signing Liverpool fans are begging for. Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, it seems like the deal is not on the cards. Speaking to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, Gotze’s father Jurgen Gotze stated he has heard nothing about a possible deal to the Reds; “I don’t know anything about an alleged imminent transfer to Liverpool,” he said. “Mario is my son, we talk to each other. I would know about it.” This is a huge setback for everyone involved with Liverpool but this transfer can be resurrected.

Gotze waving goodbye to Bayern fans?

Gotze waving goodbye to Bayern fans?

Potential signings – Mario Gotze is a main target for Klopp and they should do everything they can to secure his services.

Now Liverpool have a world class manager in Jurgen Klopp, fans will need to be patient and give Klopp time to bring in the players he believes can take Liverpool to the next level and bring the Premier League back to Anfield for the first time in over 20 years.

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Liverpool must see Teixeira deal through – Reds transfer failures must stop

It looked like it was going to be a very quiet January for Liverpool – until the news broke that a bid had been made for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian forward Alex Teixeira. But will the deal go through? It’s vital that it does, argues Jim Boardman

According to reports Ian Ayre is in Florida, at Shakhtar Donetsk’s winter training camp, trying to force a deal through for their 26-year-old attacking player Alex Teixeira. With the January window down to its final ten days and Liverpool showing no signs of adding any significant names to the squad for this season the story took fans somewhat by surprise.

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There is no doubt at all that Liverpool need more firepower with their only fit recognised frontman, Christian Benteke, looking nothing like the £32.5m striker Brendan Rodgers tried to make him last summer.

Daniel Sturridge is best forgotten about – for the time being if not longer – given his continuing struggles with various injuries and apart from those two Jürgen Klopp wasn’t exactly handed a lot to work with from a goalscoring point of view. Danny Ings, who was signed after running down his Burnley contract, looked promising before suffering an injury that sees him out for the rest of the season. Mario Balotelli was loaned out for the season, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini were sold at the start of it.

Klopp, despite his kind words about Christian Benteke, clearly doesn’t see him as the solution to Liverpool’s problem despite him being top scorer on seven goals and has tended to instead use £29m Roberto Firmino as a striker of sorts for many of the games. Firmino, however, has only scored three goals all season.

Aside from their striker woes Liverpool have been hit by a long-term drought from players elsewhere on the field. Gone are the days, it seems, when the Liverpool midfield would chip in with a fair proportion of the Reds’ tally, something that stood out during that amazing spell in 2014 when Liverpool flirted with the title but relied a little too heavily on the goals of just two players, Sturridge and the about-to-be-sold Luis Suarez. By not replacing the one who left and not providing cover for the one who stayed but kept getting injuries it was little surprise Liverpool saw the goals dry up.

Liverpool absolutely have to start finding goals from players other than whoever is up front.

Adam Lallana is yet to score in his 18 league games so far this season, which is the same tally from the same number of appearances as Jordon Ibe, who at least has age on his side. Jordan Henderson has been injured but one goal in nine games is hardly helping the cause, whilst James Milner has managed two from 17 – and one of those was from the spot.

Even Philippe Coutinho, now also on Liverpool’s long injury list, has only hit five from his 17 league games, a low total considering what he has shown he is capable of. Winger Lazar Marcovic, signed for £20m a year before, has spent this season out on loan, presumably having failed to show any signs of coming good as far as the previous manager was concerned. Without decent wingers putting in decent crosses it’s difficult to see Christian Benteke doing much of what he’s best at.

So which gap will Alex Teixeira fill if the deal goes through – will he be used as a striker, a No.10, a wide player? He is described as an attacking midfielder who can play across the full width of the field and even as the main striker, although it’s as a No.10 or wide player he gets most of his games.  We’ll have to wait and see how Klopp plans to use him – but first we have to wait and see if Ian Ayre can get this one across the line and his track record isn’t great with Ukrainian clubs.

Two years ago the Reds CEO flew out to try and secure the services of winger Yevhen Konoplyanka from Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk but the deal fell through amidst claims from the Ukrainian club that Liverpool were unable to deliver the funds before the window closed. Brendan Rodgers denied those claims, defending his CEO and members of the transfer committee.

“The only thing I will say is the football club done everything possible to get the player in,” Rodgers said at the time. “In every aspect.

“Finance, we had the doctor out there, the chief scout, everyone.

“Categorically, Ian Ayre did a brilliant job negotiating. The money wasn’t the problem”

Whatever the problem was, it left Liverpool without a player that might just have given them that extra push towards an unexpected league title and with the deal falling through right at the end of the window it wasn’t possible to find an alternative. It also wasn’t the first time Ayre had come back empty handed from talks with a Ukrainian club.

In summer 2013 the selling club was, as it is now, Shakhtar Donetsk and this time the target was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Liverpool spent what seemed like an age trying to get the deal done, only for him to move to Germany instead, where he linked up with current LFC boss Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

To get this deal done now would be a massive boost to morale amongst fans who are confident their manager has what it takes to get Liverpool facing the right way and moving forward again but are concerned about the tools he is expected to do it with. With the closure of the window moving ever closer Liverpool’s business amounted to signing a Championship defender on an emergency loan, a young midfielder on a deal that sees him go straight back on loan to the selling club and a contract extension for a goalkeeper most fans lost faith with a long time ago.

Chances are the goalkeeper has got his extension to protect his sell-on value should the Reds eventually sign the top-class commanding keeper any club with title ambitions need and the loan signing of Steven Caulker gives Liverpool cover at a time of injury crisis without the need to waste money on a player who might not quite be the right fit for the manager. Marko Grujic is one for the future, as his transfer fee suggests.

The reports say Liverpool’s opening bid was for around €32m (£24.7m) with some reports suggesting that the deal would also include add-ons that would make it worth nearer £29m. This is similar to the reported terms of the deal done to bring Firmino to the club, the suggestion being he cost an initial £22m rising to £29m.

Reports also suggest Donetsk value their asset, one they’ve had since he was 19, at far more than anything Liverpool are offering and, given they are owned by the richest man in Ukraine, oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ian Ayre might just have to rethink his strategy.

Teixeira’s stats are pretty mouthwatering, he’s scored 67 times in 146 games for Shakhtar, including an astounding 26 goals from 25 games this season.  If you think that sounds impressive, his league record for this campaign is 22 goals in just 15 games.

Teixeira wouldn’t be able to join Liverpool’s assault on the Europa League if he signed – Shakhtar are didn’t qualify from their Champions League group and as a result have dropped into the Europa League making him ineligible to play for any other club in either of UEFA’s competitions.

It doesn’t matter. With those goal stats, Liverpool could still make very good use of him in the other three competitions they are involved in and, assuming this is a player Klopp wants at the club, the club must to do all it can to ensure the deal goes through. There have been far too many failures in Liverpool’s transfer dealings in recent years.

LFC agree deal for first Klopp signing – but there might just be a snag

The first transfer of the Jürgen Klopp era looks to have hit a snag – the player’s dad doesn’t want him to leave his current club and claims he has a trick up his sleeve to prevent it happening.

The player is Marko Grujic and the deal Liverpool are trying to get done would see cash-strapped Red Star Belgrade pocket €6m now (around £4.3m) but keep the player until the end of the season. Liverpool would pay €7m (£5.1m) for the player, with Red Star Belgrade giving the Anfield side €1m of it back immediately as a loan fee.

There is also a 10% sell-on clause which would benefit the Serbian side should the Reds cash in on the youngster at a later date.

Marko’s dad Goran, however, is unhappy about where the deal leaves his son and the pressure he claims the teenager has been put under to sign up for the move.

Grujic Senior claims Red Star are trying to “destroy” his son: “I won’t allow them to destroy my boy – I’m speaking about people who are in charge of the club.”

Goran is unhappy that the powers-that-be are using his son as a quick fix for their financial problems: “Everyone turned their back on them, as they’ve spent all the money the club has had, and they see a solution in Marko’s transfer. That’s why there’s so much pressure on him.”

The 19-year-old now finds himself fielding constant phone calls urging him to sign whilst reading claims in local media about how important he is going to be to Liverpool.

“Ten times per day they are calling him by phone, urging him to sign a contract,” Goran says.

“There are stories in Serbian media, like ‘Gerrard’s No.8 is waiting for him,’ or ‘Klopp called him by phone,’ and ‘millions here, millions there’.

He could switch off his phone and avoid reading the papers, but the club are relentless according to Goran: “There’s also pressure in Red Star’s dressing room, as it seems that they convinced players, who are waiting for their salaries, that their payments depend on Marko’s transfer.”

In Goran’s eyes the idea his son is being lined up to take Steven Gerrard’s shirt doesn’t marry up too well with the fact he wouldn’t actually be arriving at Anfield for another six months.

“I mean, which club is willing to pay six million euros, and then to say: ‘Look, kid, come when you want?’

“Nope. If Liverpool FC is seriously counting on him, they’ll tell him: ‘Start of training camp in January is on this day, at that hour, we’re expecting you.’ And, what kind of combination is that?

“The club is paying seven million euros for him, but then leave him on loan and that loan costs one million?

“Really, I’m starting to think I should call the police to tell them everything about this pressure.”

Marko’s dad believes he still holds the trump card when it comes to blocking the deal: “All I can say is that the passports are with me, and I can guarantee that Marko is not leaving, he’s not going anywhere.”

There’s also a question for Grujic Senior about the rush to get the deal done. He believes if the club hold on to the summer they will get perhaps double the fee for him.

“He became world champion, he’s on his way to win a title with Red Star, it’s logical that his price will be bigger in summer 2016, but there are so many people who want this transfer to go earlier to get money.

“All of this is packaged as a beautiful strawberries and cream for Marko because he was still a child. But the reality is different.”

It seems Grujic’s anger is aimed square at the club’s hierarchy and not the manager: “I know that coach Miodrag Bozovic has respect for my son, but I told director Zvezdan Terzic openly: ‘Leave my kid alone!’

“As for Liverpool’s offer, I’m sure there will be bigger [offers] than this one. Let him win the title with Red Star first.”

Meanwhile Red Star Belgrade have officially confirmed their acceptance of Liverpool’s offer and have gone as far as explaining the reasons behind their willingness to do business. As Grujic suspects – and of course unsurprisingly – the deal has been done for financial reasons from Red Star’s point of view.

The Serbian side’s statement explained: “In the last 10 days we have received three formal offers for the transfer of our player Marko Grujic.

“From Anderlecht £1.45m, Stuttgart £3.6m and from Liverpool we received an offer worth £5m and 10 per cent of the next transfer.

“All at Red Star sincerely want Marko Grujic to stay for the next 10 years, but the financial situation of our club dictates the adoption of a different decision.

“The board considered the offer and unanimously accepted the offer of the English giants.

“Liverpool will pay the money immediately and the player will stay at Red Star until July.”

The club’s statement acknowledged the concerns of Marko’s dad and suggests that the six month return loan deal was done with that in mind.

“We wanted to respect the desire of the player’s father,” they said. “Marko Grujic will remain at our club until next summer. We agreed to pay Liverpool £730,000 for this six month loan.”

As for claims they are ‘destroying’ a young career, Red Star claim that the move to “giants” Liverpool will give the teenager an opportunity for a successful career.

“Marko Grujic should continue to develop at one of the biggest clubs in the world, the club that is probably the dream of every player on the planet.

“We are convinced, just like the people from Liverpool, that Marko Grujic has the quality to play at a big club and make a great career in England.”

How much they truly believe that is of course open to speculation and Red Star admit that they were in no position to wait any longer for the fee in any case.

“The most important fact,” their statement said: “Red Star needs £4.4m now more than £11.7m next summer, due to financial problems.”

In the meantime Liverpool fans are waiting to hear if any deals will be done to bring players into Jürgen Klopp’s squad immediately. An already thin squad has been hit by injuries recently and the manager’s options to address the slide of the past few games are limited.

Mamadou Sakho made his return from injury on Sunday but was clearly some way short of being ready. His return was enforced, however, due to the lengthy injury Dejan Lovren picked up the week before. Their fellow centre-back Martin Skrtel was himself injured during the game, the hamstring and tendon problem likely to see him miss six weeks of action.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was also missing on Sunday due to injury and the Reds have further long-term injury absentees at the back in the shape of Joe Gomez and John Flanagan.

Further up the field vice-captain James Milner missed out on Sunday due to a calf strain, with striker Danny Ings out for the season and no sign of Daniel Sturridge coming back from his latest injury.

Aside from the injuries are the questions about quality, with former players amongst those calling for reinforcements to be brought in next month.

What does the January transfer window have in store for Liverpool?

Liverpool may still have three games remaining in their hectic Christmas schedule, but Jurgen Klopp will undoubtedly have one eye on the upcoming January transfer window as he aims to stamp his own authority at Anfield.

There is no question that the former Borussia Dortmund manager has made a big impact since arriving at Liverpool, but the recent defeat at Newcastle and disappointing home draw against West Brom may be timely reminders that fans should keep their feet on the ground as there is plenty of work still to be done. Liverpool have, however, put themselves in a good position to challenge for a top six finish as they currently sit ninth in the Premier League table, just two points behind Crystal Palace and Tottenham, with strong performances seeing their odds of finishing higher up the table reduced on Betway.

 

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Strengthening the squad in January may be the perfect tonic for Klopp to not only reshape the team to suit his philosophies and style of play, but also cater for the number of injuries that Liverpool have suffered. Dejan Lovren is the latest to find himself on the sidelines with what appears to be a serious knee injury, and while everyone connected with the club hopes he enjoys a speed recovery, it leaves Liverpool relatively short of options in defence.

The same could be said in attack, with Daniel Sturridge’s persistent injury problems and Danny Ings sidelined for the rest of the season leaving Klopp with Christian Benteke and Divock Origi as his only striking options. It remains to be seen whether the board will provide Klopp with the finances he desires to make significant moves in the transfer window, but if his track record at Dortmund is anything to go by, then Liverpool could find themselves in extremely shrewd hands.

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Kevin Grosskreutz

Deciphering fact from fiction is always the name of the game when it comes to any transfer window, and while Liverpool are naturally linked with a whole host of top quality players across Europe, time will tell as to who Klopp will target in January. One player who looks almost certain to arrive at Anfield is Kevin Grosskreutz, who worked under Klopp at Dortmund but has seen his summer move to Galatasaray fall flat. The 27-year-old, who can play in a number of positions, has not played a single game for the Turkish side and would jump at the chance of a reunion with his former boss.

He could be joined at Liverpool by Stefan Kiessling who has given strong indications that he may have to seek new pastures away from Bayer Leverkusen after seeing first-team opportunities limited in recent weeks. Signing a 31-year-old with an excellent goal-scoring record would be an indication that the safe money is on Klopp to bring the glory days back to Liverpool, and although Betway give the Reds an outside shot at the title at 16/1, success in the Europa League and FA Cup is not beyond the realms of possibility. Their chances could be significantly boosted if rumours of moves for Jack Butland and Lucas Moura come to fruition, but as both would command considerable transfer fees and would not necessarily leave their current employers,

Neven Subotic

Neven Subotic

Liverpool fans may have one eye on the January transfer activity themselves following the revelation that Klopp has not only failed to rule out a potential raid on former employers Borussia Dortmund, but CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has given the green light for him to speak to any player he wishes to bring to Anfield. It has sparked considerable excitement that the likes of Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus could be Liverpool players at some point in the future, with Subotic the most likely to leave Dortmund as he has barely played under Thomas Tuchel.

However, the January window could also be a period when Klopp has to consider keeping hold of his best players, with Philippe Coutinho the most likely to come under the spotlight. Real Madrid and Barcelona have been credited with strong interest in the Brazilian maestro, and although Liverpool may be focused on who could be arriving, keeping a player of Coutinho’s quality at the club has to be valued as imperative.

 

Lallana: Nathaniel Clyne is a “massive signing” for Liverpool

Adam Lallana describes Liverpool’s new £12.5m full-back and his former Southampton teammate Nathaniel Clyne as a “massive signing” for the club and says the Reds’ work so far this transfer window has been “tremendous”.

New boy Nathaniel Clyne has been welcomed to Anfield with open arms by his friend, England teammate and former Southampton teammate Adam Lallana. The full back was unveiled earlier this week after the Reds agreed a £12.5m fee with the Saints for his services and Lallana predicts he’ll be a success for Liverpool.

“He’s as solid as they come for a right-back and, getting forward, he’s got goals in his locker,” Lallana said. “In one-v-one situations defensively, he’s the kind of full-back you just don’t want to come up against,” he added.

“Off the pitch, he’ll fit in absolutely fine. He’s quite quiet and likes to just get on with his football, but he’s a great lad and knowing the Liverpool dressing room, he’ll fit in absolutely perfectly.”

(Image: Liverpool FC)

(Image: Liverpool FC)

 

Clyne will be expected to settle in quickly at Anfield with the fee paid putting him towards the top end of the club’s spending on defenders down the years. He’s the fourth most expensive Reds defender of all time, just ahead of Alberto Moreno, and the second most expensive full-back the club have ever signed. The player he replaces, Glen Johnson, was the most expensive full-back, with centre-backs Mamadou Sakho and another of his former Saints teammates, Dejan Lovren, topping the club’s defensive spending chart.

Lallana, himself the second most expensive player Liverpool had ever signed when he arrived last year – he’s now third after Roberto Firmino took second place with that £29m fee – is delighted with the work the club have done so far to bring new faces in. “The signings so far have been tremendous,” he said. “There’s Firmino, Milner, Ings and now Clyne, as well as Bogdan and Gomez. It’s a great variety and added to what we’ve already got, hopefully it can be a good combination for success.”

Will Clyne make a difference for Liverpool? “It’s a massive signing for us,” Lallana said.

“I played with him for a couple of seasons at Southampton and since they signed him, he’s come on a lot. Last season he probably had his best season at Southampton, got an England call up and he’s been a regular in the squad ever since.”

Lallana suggests he was surprised Liverpool managed to land him, given the absence of Champions League football and reported interest from top clubs at home and abroad: “To manage to persuade him to sign for Liverpool – as I’m sure there would have been other top clubs, and even European clubs, interested in him – is a great coup for us.” Lallana said.

The Reds attacking midfielder also revealed he’d been on a break with Clyne this summer before the deal was done and that he’d discussed the move with him. “I’ve spoken to him and I was actually on holiday with him for a little bit this summer.” Lallana explained. “We were in America together. I managed to speak to him about it there and I kind of knew it could be on the cards.

“His intentions were there and he was hoping the deal could get sorted.”

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Adam Lallana signed for Liverpool last summer (Pic: Liverpool FC)

Speaking to the club’s official website, Lallana said there wasn’t much persuasion needed on his part: “Liverpool explains itself.” He said. “The whole world knows about Liverpool.

“I just said to him that I hoped the deal would get done as it’ll be a great place for him to improve even more, especially under Brendan Rodgers’ guidance.”

The 24-year-old spent three seasons as St Mary’s before Liverpool signed him and Lallana has seen him mature and develop since his old club bought him from Crystal Palace: “I’ve not been surprised by his progress,” says Lallana.

“When Southampton signed him from Palace, you could see he had potential. Since then, he’s developed and learnt the game – he’s turned from a kid into a man on the pitch.”

Lallana is coming to the end of his summer break, cut short because of England duty and busy because of a new arrival in his family, but he says he’ll be ready to get back into action for the club’s pre-season tour and the new season ahead.

“I think everyone’s looking forward to getting back,” he said. “We’ve got an exciting tour, but we’ve still got a few more days left of our holidays, which we’ll enjoy because it’s a tough and long season.

“It’s not been too long [the break], but I’ve spent time with the family. I’ve just had another baby boy – my wife gave birth on June 2 – so it’s been quite full on, really, in terms of bottle feeding and entertaining my three-year-old, too.

“It’s been great fun. There’ve been a few sleepless nights, but not too many!”

Can Liverpool finish in the top four?

After Liverpool finished second to Manchester City in the 2013-14 campaign, they were extremely disappointing last season and finished sixth in the Premier League table. Brendan Rodgers accepted the need for change at the club and has already been active in the transfer window, signing Burnley striker Danny Ings, Manchester City midfielder James Milner, Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino and this week confirming a deal for England international Nathaniel Clyne. Liverpool supporters are excited at their chances this campaign and the Reds are well placed to compete for a top-four finish – which would bring Champions League football back to Anfield next season.

Liverpool were foolish in the transfer window last summer and failed to invest wisely after selling star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona for an estimated fee of around £75million. The Reds struggled in the opening few matches of the campaign and many believe they panicked before buying Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert. This season, Rodgers has acted quickly to secure the services of talented, experienced players as the squad begin to adapt to life without Steven Gerrard. Milner will bring stamina and energy to the midfield, while Ings – who scored 11 goals for Burnley last season – will provide some much needed support to Daniel Sturridge in attack.

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Image: Dean Jones

Furthermore, Brazil star Firmino – who is currently on international duty at the Copa America – has agreed to join the club and could be the ideal replacement for Raheem Sterling if the 20-year-old leaves this summer. Southampton’s Clyne was arguably the best right-back in the Premier League last season and, for less than £15 million, is an absolute bargain when compared with the £30million that rivals Manchester United paid for 19-year-old Luke Shaw.

Each of Liverpool’s signings will bring something a little different to the club and Reds fans are already licking their lips at the prospect of a three-pronged attack including Sturridge, Coutinho and Firmino. Many people believe that Liverpool are now not only well placed for a top-four push, but to challenge for the title. In fact, Liverpool supporters may have taken advantage of bookmaker signup offers to ensure that they receive the best odds possible for the Reds to win the Premier League crown this campaign.

Rodgers’ men finished a long way behind fourth-placed Manchester United last season but have already earned two huge psychological blows ahead of the upcoming campaign. The 13-time Premier League champions were reportedly interested in both Firmino and Clyne but their arch rivals secured their services early, much to the dismay of United’s supporters and to the delight of Liverpool’s. Fans are certainly excited at the prospect of watching their team this season after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign.

It is perhaps more realistic for Liverpool to target a top-four finish this season – a result that most supporters would be happy with at the start of the campaign. It may take some time for Rodgers’ new-look side to gel but they will be a huge threat in the near future. Liverpool’s signings so far have been smart purchases and they are more than capable of climbing up the table and guaranteeing those special European nights return to Anfield for the 2016-17 season.

Nathaniel Clyne signs for Liverpool

Southampton and England full-back Nathaniel Clyne has become the sixth new name to be added to Brendan Rodgers’ squad this summer as the Reds continue to get their recruitment in early.

Liverpool have bought a defender from Southampton for the second summer in succession – the fourth signing from the South Coast side in the space of a year – as right-back Nathaniel Clyne joins the club for a reported £12.5m fee.

The two clubs agreed a fee last week and the 24-year-old full-back had his medical earlier this week but it wasn’t until today that the club confirmed he had signed a “long term” contract at Anfield.

Speaking after signing for the Reds, Clyne said: “I’m delighted and it’s a dream move for me to come here and play for such a big club with all of its history,” adding: “I can’t wait to get started.”

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Liverpool have been linked with a move for the player for some time and he says once he was aware there was a possibility of him moving to Merseyside he wanted it to happen: “As soon as Liverpool showed their interest in me, I was happy and just wanted the deal to go through.

“The gaffer has shown a lot of interest in me and this is a place where I can improve as a player, I think.

“It’s definitely a good opportunity to come here and try to fulfil my potential.”

Clyne also sent a message out to Liverpool fans through his Twitter account, tweeting: “I’m very proud and honoured to have signed for @LFC it’s a special club with a lot of history and looking forward to getting started now.”

Liverpool have signed two forwards – Danny Ings and Roberto Firmino – with a third, Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke, understood to be close to a switch from Aston Villa. Also recruited so far this transfer window are midfielder James Milner, goalkeeper Adam Bogdan and another defender, Joe Gomez.

There have also been changes to the coaching staff. Manager Brendan Rodgers kept his job but sacked his two assistants, Colin Pascoe and Mike Marsh, reportedly appointing England U19 coach Sean O’Driscoll and Liverpool U16 coach Pepijn Lijnders as replacements.

The club are yet to officially confirm any of the news on the changes to the coaching staff.

Clyne scored for Southampton at the Kop end last season and knows what it’s like to play at Anfield: “I’ve played at Anfield before and know what the atmosphere is all about,” he said.

“It’s a great atmosphere and will make me rise to the challenge. I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully it can push me on to putting on good performances.”

Liverpool only finished one place above Southampton last term but the changes being made are designed to help Liverpool get back into the Champions League as part of what might be a last chance for Rodgers to prove that last season was a one-off and that he can ensure the Reds return to the form, results and style of 2013-14.

Liverpool turn down £25m Sterling from Man City for Raheem

Manchester City made an unsuccessful offer for Liverpool FC’s unsettled forward Raheem Sterling this week, an offer way below the Reds valuation. Sterling reportedly wants to move to a club where he thinks he can win trophies.

 

NEWS broke on Thursday night that 20-year-old Raheem Sterling had been the subject of a £25m transfer bid from Manchester City earlier in the week. The Liverpool frontman, currently on duty with England, has made it clear he doesn’t want to stay at Anfield but the offer from City won’t come close to tempting Liverpool to part with the youngster.

The offer, which would be worth up to a total of £30m including add-ons, falls some way short of Liverpool’s asking price, believed to be in the region of £50m.

The Reds would be loathe to sell to Premier League rivals – bearing in mind their response to an Arsenal bid for Luis Suarez two years ago – but Sterling is not Luis Suarez, not even close, and given the negative circumstances created by his agent Aidy Ward the club are not completely closed to the idea.

Unfortunately for Sterling and his representative, who stands to receive a substantial fee should a transfer take place, Manchester City may not be willing to go much higher with their offer and certainly not to the kind of level Liverpool are expecting. City aside, few clubs are in a position to even consider making that kind of bid and it may well be that Sterling is priced out of a move, despite reported interest from City’s fellow top four sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Given Sterling’s form at the tail end of the season with the off-field distractions no doubt playing a part in the slump, there may well be concerns for prospective buyers that he won’t be able to live up to the pressure of playing with a massive price tag around his neck.

Sterling wants to move to a club that can help him win things and although there is no guarantee Manchester City are a club to do that it certainly seems more likely for silverware to head to the Etihad than to Anfield, unless the changes to the Liverpool backroom staff bring unexpectedly big improvements. Whether Sterling is making a bid for trophies next season at Anfield or elsewhere remains to be seen.

Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who said the club’s season was “disappointing”, claimed earlier this week that bringing players in shouldn’t be as expensive as it was when they were first taken over by Eithad.

“We were at a point of having to pay big premiums in order to attract the type of players we wanted to attract, given that we weren’t in Europe,” Mubarak said.

“Today I think we’re definitely in a different competitive position. We’re a club players want to come to play for, we’re an institution today. We can compete head to head with all the top clubs.”

Enticing the players themselves is one aspect to football transfers, but the deal has to be good for the selling club too and £25m+ add-ons isn’t as attractive to Liverpool as City had hoped.

Manager Brendan Rodgers left Sterling out of the last game of the season, the 6-1 defeat to Stoke, leaving him on the bench even though Liverpool had a five goal deficit to make up by half-time. From the outside it certainly looks like the relationship between player and manager is damaged and no doubt with the agent’s prompting other clubs will be aware of how that might just play into their hands where the fee is concerned.

Sterling was adamant that any move from Anfield would be about trophies not money, and although City also ended last season empty handed they were in the chase for the league for most of the season.

With Liverpool using words like “par” as if to justify their poor sixth-place finish, ending without a trophy was seen as far less than acceptable to City’s chairman.

“It was a disappointing season as far as I am concerned,” he said.

“Disappointing for everyone involved with the club – Sheikh Mansour, myself, the board, the management team, Manuel, the players and of course, above all, the fans.”

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There hasn’t been a single word said in public from Liverpool’s owners about the season just gone, the club instead relying on leaked and briefed snippets of information to keep fans informed about what is happening to their club.

We know the manager’s No.2 and No.3 have been sacked, but we don’t know why, we don’t know whose decision it was.

We know the club fell from second to sixth after spending £120m, we knew that something needed to be done – but wasn’t – to fill the hole Luis Suarez left behind, but we don’t know if the owners have done anything to address the problems that left the club so short of firepower.

Fans are unhappy – 89% voted in a poll on this site to say the manager should leave – but the club seem happy to leave fans to stew.

City, meanwhile, have a chairman willing not only to admit to the disappointment of last season but also to send a message out that his club is determined to fix the problems that caused it.

“You will see some changes,” Mubarak said. “Some players who have served us well, maybe it is time for them to move on to the next challenges, while you will see us in the market bringing high-quality individuals to fit in with what we are aspiring to coming in this summer.

“I can assure you this squad will be stronger and the team will be more competitive. I am both confident and excited about what is coming next year.

“I want the disappointment of last year behind me, behind us all. We have all turned the page and the energy right now is positive energy towards getting back on track and winning back that Premier League and getting a better performance in the Champions League. That is absolutely what is driving us right now.”

FSG and their Liverpool board remain silent.

UPDATE: One report this morning states City “will go back to Liverpool with a second, increased bid for Raheem Sterling closer to their £50m-plus asking price.”

Note the use of the word “closer”, rather than “close” – even an extra pound would be closer, but not necessarily close enough. Ask Arsenal.

It seems unlikely that City will make a bid close to Liverpool’s reported asking price (which in some reports is worded as “at least” £50m) and any renewed bid may just involve a tweaking of the guaranteed amount payable and some different and distant add-ons.

Liverpool’s real asking price, however, is unlikely to be as high as £50m, given the size of contract offer they made to Sterling the last time they held talks. That offer was believed to be £90k per week, much less than half the £200k per week deal they agreed with Luis Suarez to keep him at the club, although they ultimately only paid it for an extra six months before selling him to Barca for a fee – according to the Catalan club – of £65m.

Crucial Transfer Window on the Horizon for Liverpool

LIVERPOOL dropped from the highs of being the runners-up in the Premier League during the 2013-14 season to a sixth place finish last campaign. Much of the blame for this poor season has been laid upon Mario Balotelli. The Italian international ended the campaign with just one league goal – a far cry from the 31 his predecessor Luis Suarez had managed in the previous campaign. As Liverpool reportedly look into the possibility of signing Christian Benteke from Aston Villa, they should be keen on avoiding the mistakes made in the transfer window last summer. The indifferent season sees Liverpool backed at a distant 18/1 in the Premier League 2015/16 title odds from Betfair.

Last season, Liverpool made much of their transfer business after the World Cup. They have had a look at Chelsea, who benefited immensely by confirming all the transfers before the summer transfer window even began. Liverpool are already close to signing a couple of players, while the club has extended the contract of defender Kolo Toure by another year.

James Milner looks to be the first of several new faces at Anfield for the new season. The Manchester City midfielder is out of contract in a few weeks and he has already held talks with Liverpool and Arsenal over a free transfer. Even though he is best known for his work rate, his quality should also not be forgotten. Despite starting only 18 Premier League matches last season, Milner contributed a very healthy five goals and seven assists. Further, he helps keep the club’s home-grown quota of English players intact.

Still just 29 years old, Milner has the ability to make a huge impact at any club. It is no surprise that several other clubs are also interested in the race to sign him. Liverpool, at the moment, appeared to be winning the race largely because of the ability to offer more first-team football. Milner’s chances of regular football will also be greatly improved if Raheem Sterling leaves the club.

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Brendan Rodgers has stated that the player remains ‘not for sale’ at any price, but it is tough to envisage the club keeping a player who does not want to stay. A potential swap deal with Arsenal involving Theo Walcott sounds enticing. Some may regard Walcott as yet to fulfil his potential, but the England international will claim that he has not been offered enough opportunities to do so.

Despite being keen on playing as a striker for several years, Walcott has featured in this role only for a couple of games. The 26-year-old once again proved that he is capable of playing as the striker – despite his relatively small physical stature – by scoring the opening goal in the FA Cup final win over Aston Villa. For all the talk about missing a mobile striker like Luis Suarez, Rodgers can certainly experiment with Walcott upfront.

The new English additions to the squad will help the club overcome – to an extent – the loss of Steven Gerrard.

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The rumours linking Liverpool with Benteke are fascinating to say the least. Rodgers did not see Andy Carroll as part of Liverpool’s plans immediately upon arriving. He witnessed first-hand the struggles experienced by Mario Balotelli in his first season at Liverpool. On the other hand, Daniel Sturridge has thrived whenever he has played. Hence, it is clear that the style of football employed by Rodgers does not seem to suit big physical strikers, who do not have a lot of pace.

For this reason, it is rather surprising that Liverpool are heavily linked with triggering the release clause in Benteke’s contract. The £32.5 million release clause in his contract appeared mouth-watering a few weeks ago, but it is now less so after the FA Cup final.

The Aston Villa frontman had a wonderful end to the campaign. He scored a whopping 12 goals from the start of March to the end of the campaign. The FA Cup final did show some of his weaknesses. Benteke has scored much of his goals from crosses and once Arsenal found a way to stop the supply coming in, the Belgian international appeared to run out of ideas. He does not seem to be the striker who will fit into the plans at Liverpool and it will be a big gamble once again.

The Reds are currently backed at 2/1 for a top four finish by Betfair. They cannot afford to lag behind the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, who will strengthen once again, if the club is to remain in contention for the Champions League places. A top four finish is now more important for Liverpool than ever.

 

Images: Walcott: Ronnie Macdonald / Wikipedia. Milner: Wikipedia

LFC-linked Danny Ings heading away from the speculation

Speculation continues to swirl but Ings is going for a break

Liverpool target Danny Ings is the subject of yet more speculation this evening as he prepares to go on a holiday and put all thoughts of his future to one side.

The 22-year-old is a free agent when his contract runs out on June 30th at which point other clubs can speak to him and agree personal terms without having to agree a fee with his club first. If the two clubs can’t come to a consensus on a fee a tribunal will decide for them. Ings is ineligible for a free transfer due to his age. Read more